FIRED UP – Work your glutes to prevent injuries
In todays working enviroment and the increase in technology we have become more seditary, doing less manual jobs and spending more time sitting down infront of computer screens. How many of us that have these kinds of jobs suffer from chronic back and neck pain and struggle to lose weight even though we train hard and keep active? If this sounds familiar the answer to your problems may lay in correcting your posture rather than pounding the treadmill! Being sat down for eight hours or more a day not only means we burn less calories but also we start to develop postural distortion patterns, leading to imbalances within our kinetic chain. Our kinetic chain is basically how different parts of our body function together to create movement, one muscle contracts to let the other extend and the chain continues almost continuously as we go about everyday life. So from here we can see how being sat stationary for long periods can effect this chain and cause us to develop postural imbalances. In this article I am going to be looking at the common problem of weak glutes and how they can affect our posture and stop us reaching our goals! One of the most common problems in my experience in clients ranging from everyday people looking to lose weight, atheletes and others rehabilitating from injuries such as knee or ankle injuries is weak glutes. The Gluteus Maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. It plays a major part in keeping us upright and is the powerhouse behind our movement patterns and plays a crucial role in allowing us to maximally stabilize our core. By being seated for long periods of time we lengthen the muscles in our Glutes and shorten the Hip Flexor muscles, this causes lumbo-pelvic-hip postural distortion and lower extremity postural distortion leading to common injury patterns such as hamstring strains, anterior knee pain, lower back pain, shin splints or plantar facitis. These common injuries can be quickly aleviated and goals can be achieved faster by getting those glutes FIRED UP! Its not as hard as it sounds and with these simple stretches and exercises to fire up and strengthen your glutes you could quickly be on your way to turning your body into a new fat burning and efficient machine! The first step is to stretch the quads and hip flexors: STEP 1: Kneel down with your back straight. STEP 2: Step forward with your right foot while keeping your left knee on the floor. Put your hands on top of your right thigh. STEP 3: Slide your back leg behind you until you feel the stretch in the front of the hip. To intensify the leg stretches, push your hip forward, straighten your body, and put your hands on your front knee. Hold for 10-12 seconds and then change sides. The next step is to FIRE the glutes off using hip bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels on the floor, and toes lifted and pulled up toward your shins. Raise your buttocks off the floor until your back forms a straight line from knees to shoulders, tense your glutes and hold for 2 seconds before lowering, repeat 15 times for three sets. Now its time to strengthen your glutes using step ups: Always make sure that your step box is both strong enough to step onto and secure, especially if performing more advanced step up exercises with dumbbells. It’s essential that when you place your feet on the step box, your heel is clear of the edge of the box to avoid tipping the box over, always aim to place your feet firmly into the middle of the box. The height you have your step box, will greatly influence the intensity of the exercise, never have the step box higher than your knee height, aim for only 6 – 12 inches, taking slightly higher as you get stronger. Place your right foot on the box and push up through your hips bringing your left foot on to the box, always make sure your feet are straight and the movement is smooth and controlled. Lower your left foot back down to the ground repeating 15 times then change legs. Repeat this 3 times on each leg. Take care to make sure you plant your foot firmly onto the step, especially as you get tired, avoid performing poor reps as this can lead to injury. Have a go at firing those glues off and see if this helps with your training!